This week, the Baka community in the Lomie region of Central Cameroon, have been mapping their lands with the support of the Centre for Environment and Development in Cameroon (CED) and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP). The resulting maps clearly show significant incursions into designated community forest by industrial loggers in Cameroon.
Industrial logging concessions begin two kilometres from the community.
Mapping carried out this week demonstrates the extent of the overlap between communities' traditional lands and the legal boundaries of logging concessions.
FPP and CED can also reveal compelling evidence that concession boundaries marked in the forest by logging company teams overlap at least one community forest. This is illegal. Elsewhere they extend hundreds of metres beyond the concession limits. This is also illegal under Cameroonian law.
Cameroonian law also stipulates that commercial operators must consult with communities over their logging plans. They must also help them to document their traditional use areas, negotiate with communities where overlaps are identified, and establish mechanisms to avoid conflicts with communities in areas targeted for logging.
FPP and CED have seen no evidence that this has been done in the logging concessions near this Baka community. The results are systematic degradation of forest resources, reduced community welfare and increased poverty of a population who are amongst the poorest in Cameroon.
Demands of CED and FPP
FPP and CED are now calling for a review of logging plans in two areas.
First, industrial loggers should revisit all of their concession boundaries to ensure that they do not extend past the official limits, and that they do not encroach upon the community forests.
Second, logging companies should consult with communities around their concessions to document their traditional use areas, and then establish mechanisms to enable their key resources to be protected while the forest is logged.
Free, fair and informed participation by all the communities affected by logging company concessions is essential to protect community rights in their forests, to ensure that forest certification standards are achieved, and to enable the Government of Cameroon to meet its international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
FPP and CED demand that the Government of Cameroon and the European Union (EU) re-evaluate the delimitation of forest concession areas. This should be part of the ongoing FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) process leading up to the establishment of a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) between the EU and the Government of Cameroon.